Façades of The Hague #57

Den Haag Centraal (The Hague Central Station) seems to be one of the least loved of The Hague’s modern buildings.

Designed by Koen van der Gaast (1923 – 1993) – responsible for many post-WWII railway stations – and built in 1970-1976 to replace an older station and as part of the re-planning and modernisation of the city centre, it seems to have lost its once modernist appeal.

It was brutally stripped of its shelter roof over its main entrance under its concrete façade and moreover, some new postmodern high rise buildings will be placed in the square in front of its mighty gable.

Breaking it down was probably not possible, so other measures were taken to punish it for its radical brutalist appearance.

It is already crowned with rubbish as if it is just a huge outlet store.

Whatever the qualities of the new buildings in the square (and i have my doubts about that), its present and future position can only be explained to a foreigner while blushing with shame.

Not particularly having been a fan of the building, but making pictures of it last March, i came to value its crude modern shape.

Den Haag Centraal is a terminus and it really looks like a buffer stop.

Its eleven horizontal stories look out over the square and the greens of Koekamp (a deer camp) and Malieveld (a historic field, traditionally used for fairs and demonstrations) and its more or less identical back façade looks out over the railways.

Its monumental sculptural qualities, brutalist and functional though they are, are quite impressive.

It has lost its function as a symbolic buffer stop as with recent renovations it has got more main entrances on other sides.

Last decades the façade has become a brooding brownish building, a muttering old lady, ignored by everyone.

The station hall has recently been revamped as a roofed market square by Benthem and Crouwel architects, as railway stations have to earn money these days, don’t ask me why.

They didn’t do a bad job at all but it makes the 1970s building all the more obsolete.

Its height and monumentality have no symbolic function anymore.

The new hall is a kind of big glass box which gives more light and elegance to the concrete environment.

However the environment itself doesn’t really co-operate.

The south Rijnstraat side of the building is a kind of windy and grey public space full of transport, constantly under construction and completely lost for humanity.

The bus platform on the east side will be restored soon, which is the least they can do.

The whole area looks like a failed exquisite corpse, a limbo before your journey.

Anything additional will make it worse.

[Click on the pictures to enlarge]

© Villa Next Door 2017

All pictures were taken in March 2017


Bertus Pieters